Former Michigan State field hockey player says in lawsuit that Larry Nassar raped her
A former Michigan State field hockey player states in a lawsuit filed Monday that she was raped by Larry Nassar and that several university employees knew about her allegations.
The suit says that current Michigan State trustee George Perles prevented police from investigating the alleged rape in the summer of 1992. Perles was Michigan State's football coach and had recently stepped down from his role as the university's athletic director.
A Michigan State official said Tuesday that the university is looking into the allegations. Defendants named in the lawsuit include Nassar, Michigan State, the school's board of trustees, and several other current and former university employees.
Erika Davis was 17 years old in 1992 when her field hockey coach recommended she see Nassar for help with a knee injury, according to the lawsuit. Nassar is the former university doctor who was convicted of child pornography possession and first-degree criminal sexual conduct.
Davis said Nassar performed a "breast exam" during one appointment in the spring of 1992 during which a man with a camera taped Nassar putting his hands and mouth on her nipples. A week later, she states, Nassar drugged her and raped her in an examination room.
The lawsuit says Davis looked at a clock while Nassar was raping her and realized she had been unconscious for more than an hour.
"Eventually, she could not keep her eyelids open and got very woozy," the lawsuit states. "When she was less woozy a short time later, Plaintiff Erika witnessed Defendant Nassar raping her."
Nassar was not a licensed physician in 1992. He was working as an athletic trainer and was a student at Michigan State's College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Other women have stated that Nassar abused them in his apartment and through his work at Great Lakes Gymnastics around the same time.
Davis is the first among 333 total complainants in the civil suits filed against Nassar to state that he raped her. It's not clear where Davis saw Nassar for their appointments during this time.
Davis said she reported the rape to former Michigan State field hockey coach Martha Ludwig in May 1992. According to the lawsuit, Ludwig confronted Nassar and took from him the video of the "breast exam" where he allegedly assaulted Davis.
The lawsuit says Ludwig spoke to Perles shortly thereafter. The suit alleges that Perles forced Ludwig to turn over the video and "the charges were dropped against the coach." It's not clear what charges the suit is referencing or if "coach" refers to Ludwig or Nassar.
The suit goes on to say that Ludwig retained a different copy of the video before turning it over to Perles. Ludwig coached the Spartans' field hockey team from 1989 to 1992.
Davis said she also informed a "dorm mom" named Cheryl during the summer of 1992 that she believed she might be pregnant. Davis said she had not had sex with anyone other than the alleged rape. The suit says that after she had a miscarriage, she went to Michigan State University police to report the rape with two of her friends.
The lawsuit states that: "The police told them that since she was an athlete, she had to report it to the athletic department. The detective explicitly told them that he was powerless to investigate anything that takes place to the athletic department and to go to the athletic department."
Davis also alleges that the sergeant who gave her this information called Perles a "powerful man" and suggested she drop the issue. Perles took over as the university's athletic director in 1990. He stayed on as the football coach through 1994, but stepped down from his post as athletic director in May 1992, around the same time that Ludwig approached him, according to the lawsuit.
Michigan State police chief Jim Dunlap said he had not read the lawsuit, but said the assertion that police would refer the investigation of a crime to the athletic department was "nonsense."
"I wasn't the chief 26 years ago, but I was here 26 years ago and I can tell you philosophically that just didn't occur that we refuse to take a report," Dunlap said. "You might not like an outcome from an investigation, but I can say unequivocally we don't give investigations to non-law enforcement agencies."
The attorney general's office in Michigan, which has an ongoing investigation into how Michigan State handled the Nassar case, said through a spokeswoman that they are aware of the filing and are reviewing it.
Michigan State said Perles had publicly announced his plans to resign as AD a month earlier. According to the timeline in the lawsuit, police told Davis that Perles was a "powerful man" during the summer of 1992, when Merrily Dean Baker had taken over as the AD.
Davis also states that she lost her field hockey scholarship shortly after reporting the alleged rape. Emily Guerrant, a spokeswoman for the university, confirmed that an Erika Davis was a part of the field hockey program in the early 1990s. The school has not yet confirmed if she was on scholarship.
"We are deeply sorry for the abuses Larry Nassar has committed, and for the trauma experienced by all sexual assault survivors," the university said in a statement in response to the new allegations. "Sexual abuse, assault and relationship violence are not tolerated in our campus community. While the protocols and procedures mentioned in this lawsuit do not reflect how sexual assault claims are handled at MSU, we are taking the allegations very seriously and looking into the situation."
Perles, currently one of eight members of Michigan State's board of trustees, did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday. He remains a member of the board in good standing, according to Guerrant.
Ludwig did not respond to calls requesting comment Tuesday morning. Attorney Jordan Merson, one of three attorneys who represent Davis, said he is not taking questions from reporters about the lawsuit.
Monday was the deadline to file new lawsuits against Michigan State regarding Nassar's abuse, according to the terms of a settlement reached this past spring. The school agreed to pay $500 million to the 300-plus complainants in the civil lawsuits.
From that total, $75 million was to be reserved for others who had not yet made formal legal complaints.